The streets of West London bellowed with the sound of ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ on Monday morning as mourners gathered to pay respects to former Big Issue vendor Darren James who died in an alleyway near Goldhawk Road Station in December 2017.
The memorial, attended by M People’s Heather Small and The Voice contestant Peter Donegan among others, saw mourners lay single roses at the spot where Darren was found dead. His sister, Jen Roberts, organised the tribute following the release of a charity single of the Hollies ballad featuring both Small and Donegan, as well as Peter Andre, Atomic Kitten’s Natasha Hamilton, Alexander O’Neill, Errol Reid and Patti Boulaye.
After the roses were laid, the group burst into an impromptu A Capella version of the song that reverberated through the alleyway and out onto Goldhawk Road.
Darren used to sell The Big Issue in Bournemouth. Unfortunately, he fell on hard times after moving to London and died shortly afterwards, aged 49. Even though his identity and family contacts were on his person at the time, his family weren’t informed about his death until March 2018. He had been rough sleeping in the capital for two years.
His sister said the idea for the charity single came from Darren’s love of the song; a song he always wanted to record himself. The single is raising money for Jen’s charity Homeless Worldwide, the Salvation Army and Shelter.